Whitworth University 2020 Faculty Biennial

Ben Necochea Part 2

Today is our second look at the illustration presented by Ben Necochea and his responses to a few questions I had for him.

El Injerto – The Graft, digital illustration, 2020, 36×22.5 inches, $100

I asked Ben about the media he used and his working process, and he had this to say, “This is a digital illustration created in Adobe Fresco, Illustrator and Photoshop using an iPad and a MacBook Pro.  My process begins with ruminating over a concept and then translating those thoughts into doodles. I don’t spend a lot of time refining sketches or detailing things out on paper. Many times, these doodles exist on meeting notes, scratch pieces of paper or throughout my sketchbook. I will also search for resource images from the internet or my local surroundings and collect them on my phone. I try to capture images of textures, colors, or imagery that may or may not be used, but that I can have access to on the fly. Once I have gathered what I feel is a good start I begin creating the piece digitally. This piece consisted of using Fresco, which is a mobile app that allows you to create vectors as well as bitmapped imagery. As I build the piece, I continue gathering, doodling and researching through the entire process to help me develop the final piece. The ability to transfer files easily from paper to digital and from mobile to desktop has created a much more fluid workflow and allows for a lot more experimentation and adjustment through the entire process.”

Ben’s statement had a lot of good information about this piece and its content, and I had a few follow up questions.  First, I asked him about the season we see represented in this image, and its significance to the content, and he responded, “The scene is set in winter and the intent was to remove the cactus from its natural setting and place it in a location not commonly associated with it. The concept was to express its reliance upon the cedar for existence by placing it where it doesn’t seem to belong and yet is able to continue thriving and bearing fruit.”

I was also interested in the mix of subtle gradation of color and tone and harder linear elements and flat sections of color, and asked Ben how he balances these elements when creating a composition?  “In an effort to maintain the illustrative style of the originals I created light washes and added heavier outlines to define the objects and create texture. Because of the heaviness of the lines, there is a struggle in maintaining a visual balance as the heavy line work can be overpowering. By using lighter washes in the sky and snow, I feel I was able to create a balance with the texture heavy tree.”

I was also curious if this poster is the beginning of a series of images, and this is what he had to say, “I would like to complete a few more images following the Loteria theme and illustrating various Christian metaphors. I don’t know if I have the determination to create a whole set of 54 cards, but it could be a great long-term project. In the short term I would like to create a few more, but experiment with creating a faux four-color halftone look on the card in order to capture the look of the original cards.”

And finally, I asked Ben what he plans on working on next, more traditional graphic design work or creating graphic images for gallery presentation? “Now that I am at Whitworth and I have the opportunity I would love to create graphic design pieces that are more suited for gallery showing than the corporate setting. Plenty of artists have been doing this in the past from Alphonse Mucha, to Warhol to Barbara Kruger, and their ability to marry image and text to communicate a message or emotion has influenced designers like me for a long time. I believe that there is a fine line between art and design and there is nothing wrong in blurring the line or crossing over in order to create something new and exciting.” 

Thanks so much for spending some time getting to know Ben and his work.  Again, if you would like to see more, use the link below.


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